The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: Joseph

God will Pervert Justice?

“Rabbi Yudai was in the presence of of Rabbi Azariah son of Simlai. He asked him, ‘Righteous ones who stumble upon a sin from the Torah that invokes excision, ponder repentance, and die—does their death atone for them?’ He replied, ‘Yes, and sometimes they are punished in this world, procuring atonement.’ He saw Rabbi Yudai’s face turn sallow. He said to him, ‘Say what you would say! The Torah does not receive impurity, as is written: Is not My word like fire, says YHWH? (Jeremiah 23:29) [cf. BT Berakhot 22b]. Thoughts in your heart?’

The secret of YHWH is for those who revere Him, [and to them He reveals His covenant(Psalms 25:14). Ten elders martyred by the empire on account of the sale of Joseph! 

He said to him, ‘Phinehas is Elijah’ [cf. BT Bava Batra 109b; Sotah 43a: ‘(Phinehas was a descendant) of Joseph who mastered his passion.’ On Phinehas as identified with Elijah, see Targum Yerushalmi, Exodus 6:18; Numbers 25:12; BT Metsi’a 114b, and Rashi, ad loc.; Tanḥuma, Pinḥas 1; Pirqe de-Rabbi Eli’ezer 47; Zohar 1:209b; 2:190a; 3:214a, 215a, 282a (both RM)].

He replied, ‘But Rabbi Akiva did not have ancestral merit!’ [see JT Berakhot 4, 7d; BT Berakhot 27b]. He said, ‘Of the descendants of Issachar, men who knew how to interpret the signs of the times (1 Chronicles 12:33) [cf. BT Yoma 26a in the name of Rava: ‘You will not find any rabbinical scholar offering rulings unless he is a descendant from the tribe of Levi or Issachar… ‘Issachar,’ as is written: Of the descendants of Issachar, men who knew how to interpret the signs of the times, to know what Israel ought to do (1 Chronicles 12:33)’].’

He opened, saying, ‘When Jacob came in from the field in the evening, Leah went out to meet him and said, ‘You are to come to me, for שָׂכֹר שְׂכַרְתִּיךָ (sakhor sekhartikha), I have surely hired you (Genesis 30:16). שָׂכֹר (S’khar), Reward—afterward. יֵשׁ שְׂכַ (Yesh s’khar), There is reward. Yesh, There is now; afterward, lambs for the kingdom in heaven. Their bodies will remain in their places in this world, everything ultimately restored to primal form. It is written: Each according to his blessing, he blessed them (Genesis 49:28).’

Rabbi Yudai fell prostrate, and slept. In his dream, they showed him Do not let your mouth incriminate your flesh (Ecclesiastes 5:5). ‘You have entered—seal it.’ From that day on, he did not mention it. He said, ‘How precious is your love, O God, and the children of humankind shelter in the shadow of Your wings (Psalms 36:8), and their children should not speak of them—kindness of God in everything.’

Rabbi Azariah said, ‘This is certainly so, as is written: Do not touch my anointed ones (1 Chronicles 16:22); and it is written: In whose hand is the soul of every living thing and the spirit of all human flesh (Job 12:10). Concerning His concealed, hidden matters one may not speak at all, for of One who has the spirits and souls of the righteous in His hands—of hidden matters He has fashioned—one should not encroach [cf. Zohar 2:95a, 100b (both SdM)]” (Zohar Ḥadash 89c–d).

“Rabbi Yudai opened, ‘On the day שֶׁיָּזֻעוּ שֹׁמְרֵי הַבַּיִת (she-yazu’u shomerei ha-bayit), that the keepers of the house will quake (Ecclesiastes 12:3)—these are the tanna’im and amora’im who used to protect the world while in the land of Israel, וְאִזְדַּעְזְעוּן (ve-izdaze’un), now convulsed, from their posts.

‘וְהִתְעַוְּתוּ אַנְשֵׁי הֶחָיִל (Ve-hit’avvetu anshei he-ḥayil), And the men of caliber are bent (ibid.), as is said: If you know there are men of caliber among them (Genesis 46:7). [This refers to] the sin of the sons of Jacob—men of caliber—who suffered a perversion of judgment, as is said: הַאֵל יְעַוֵּת (ha-el ye’avvet), God will pervert justice (Job 8:3). They received a perversion of judgment, these men of caliber. For this is the way of the serpent—after slaying a person, it returns and bites him again, mercilessly. This is perversion of judgment!’ [cf. Midrash Mishlei 1:13: ‘still that sin lingers’; Midrash Tehillim 9:13; Elleh Ezkerah (Beit ha-Midrash, 2:64–72); ‘Ma’aseh Asarah Harugei Malkhut’ (Beit ha-Midrash, 6:19–35); Seder Eliyyahu Rabbah 28; Zohar 1:106a, 202a; 2:33a. 254b (Heikh); ZḤ 46a, 76d, 89c (last two MhN, Rut); Rabbenu Baḥya ben Asher on Genesis 38:1, 44:17; Yom Kippur Musaf liturgy].

The residents of the land of Israel sent [the exiles in Babylon] a missive: ‘It befits you to weep, like one who weeps from afar. But mourning and sobbing, and eulogizing with wailing and bitterness—that does not suit you. For you bathed your feet and did not want them sullied as before. This is as is written: I have bathed my feet, shall I sully them? (Song of Songs 5:3) [cf. Shir ha-Shirim Rabbah ad loc.: ‘I have bathed my feet—from the filth of idolatry’].

‘But we who dwell amid the serpent’s decrees—his lying ambush for us, slaying and biting daily—we see with our own eyes the perversion of judgment at work in our midst. Of those men of caliber—in their days he was silent, not pressing for judgment, for he was terrified of them and could not prevail over them. But once they passed on to that world in repentance, he arose before the blessed Holy One, clamoring for justice.

‘He scrutinized the verse One who kidnaps a man and sells him and he is found in his hands, will surely be put to death (Exodus 21:16) [see Heikhalot Rabbati (in Battei Midrashot 1:74): ‘The Quality of Judgment stood before the blessed Holy One and said, ‘Master of the World! You wrote in Your Torah: One who steals a man and sells him… (will surely be put to death) (Exodus 21:16). Now, the sons of Israel who stole their brother Joseph and sold him—what has happened to them?’ Immediately permission was granted to Samael to annihilate ten heroes in their place’].

The blessed Holy One responded to the serpent, ‘But Joseph was not a man [see Genesis 37:2].’ And he is found in his hands’ [the serpent raises another claim]. ‘Look, he was not found in their hands!’ [the blessed Holy One replies that the brothers no longer had Joseph in their control]. ‘The serpent replied, ‘Should a person be found stealing a living person of his brothers, of Israel, and garner profit from him and sell him, that thief shall die [and you shall root out the evil from your midst] (Deuteronomy 24:7).’

‘For eight hundred years he stood there, demanding judgment. And we have learned that one who is convicted on two counts is sentenced to the more severe penalty. Woe to one who receives punishment for his sins, for death atones for sins! And [woe to one who] returns to receive another punishment! Woe for the perversion of the men of caliber, while Samael and the serpent were steadfast!’ [cf. Pirqei de-Rabbi Eli’ezer 38 in the name of Rabbi Yannai: ‘The tribes did not receive atonement for the sale of Joseph until they died, as is said: Then YHWH Tseva’ot revealed Himself to my ears: This iniquity shall not be purged from you until you die [‘a second death’ (Targum Yonatan)] (Isaiah 22:14)].

‘Consequently, for us it is fitting to weep and wail, for the holy city remains bereft of all its previous bounty. At that moment, Samael alighted and confounded the world. He infused this spirit into the innards of that wicked one, the Roman emperor, and called for retribution against the valiant ones of the world. Woe unto that generation! Woe unto the world! Such a miscarriage of justice has not occurred since the day the world was created.

‘Alas! Your sons—pillars of the world [cf. Proverbs 10:25; BT Yoma 38b], enduring columns upon which the world stands; You were their crown every day. How they were abused in the hands of the serpent! How were holy spirits corrupted to don foreign, alien garments to be ripped apart in abject humiliation! Woe for this event! Woe for this depravity!

‘Who was watching in the Garden of Eden when judgment was rendered above? When ten resplendent jewels, light of the entire garden, in the midst of all the trees, discarded their garments and departed! All the trees of the garden screamed, saying, ‘Woe, men of caliber have been abused!’ and the sentries at the gates of Eden trembled. Those cherubim ascended and descended, blocking any passage through which those lights might leave when they shed the luminosity of their garments. Celestial beings and lower angels screamed before them; guardians of the walls above quaked among all the legions of the heavens, weeping and wailing.

‘Who beheld Mother screeching and ululating? She descended to the cherubim, guardians of the garden’s gates, and they trembled. Mother flew off, accompanied by one cherub. ‘Then Flame of the Whirling Sword—razor sharp—pierced through the gates, and the ten luminaries fled. Celestial beings and terrestrial beings screamed, ‘Woe unto the world! Woe unto the generation!’

‘It befits us to lament, like jackals! When Mother descended and did not find them in the garden, and all the other luminaries and lamps were screaming and wailing, She began to weep and ululate. If those cherubim, guardians of the gates were weeping and wailing, breaking out in lament, is it not all the more fitting for us to weep over all this—and for the miscarriage of justice?’

They opened, saying, ‘They sent a message to Joseph, saying… ‘We beseech you, forgive, pray, the crime and the offense of your brothers for evil they have caused you. And so now, forgive, pray, the crime of the servants of your father’s God.’ And Joseph wept when they spoke to him (Genesis 50:16–17). They transgressed against him but he pardoned all, expiating their sin. Once he forgave, who can incite regarding their offense? This is the meaning of the men of caliber were degraded (Ecclesiastes 12:3). Gross miscarriage of justice—foisted upon those men of caliber. Woe unto us! Who will have compassion upon us? Who will speak to our hearts? Who will comfort us?

‘What a huge distortion of justice! On account of Mother’s banishment, Her flight, drifting away—this made perversion of justice possible. Left alone was the one who prosecuted us, with no one to fend him off nor to offer a defense on our behalf. On account of this, all Mother’s adornments were handed over to this one. For if Mother had been there, She would have gone beyond the letter of the law on their behalf [cf. BT Berakhot 7a]. For this She weeps.

‘For this She wails over Her children, for they were slaughtered in vain, and She was absent from their trials. The serpent executed his wishes against them, as is written: For your crimes, your mother was sent away (Isaiah 50:1). Sent away—so that She would not be available for your trials. Alas! She sits alone (Lamentations 1:1). At that time, She should have been taking up the case of Her children, and on Her account the decree would have been nullified.

‘When those ten jewels left the Garden of Eden to don foreign garments, all the garments, save one, were handed over to the serpent. This is as is written: Reuben returned to the pit (Genesis 37:29). Since he had counseled to put [Joseph] in the pit, he was associated with the pit, and was saved. [This is related to] the capture of Rabbi Eli’ezer” (Zohar Ḥadash 93b–d).

He is Unclean, He shall Dwell Apart: Yet it was Our Sickness He was Bearing!

“Rabbi Yehoshu’a son of Levi met Elijah at the opening of the cave of Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai [cf. 1 Kings 19:8–9]. He asked him: ‘Do I have a portion in the world to come?’ He said, ‘If this lord desires.’ Rabbi Yehoshu’a son of Levi said, ‘I saw two, but heard the voice of a third [i.e., the Shekhinah (Rashi)].’ He then asked him, ‘When will the Messiah come?’ ‘Go and ask him himself,’ he replied. ‘Where is he sitting?’ He said, ‘At the portal of the city of Rome.’ ‘And by what sign may I recognize him?’ He said, ‘He is sitting among the ill, poor, and suffering: everyone of them untie all at once and rebandage them together, whereas he unties and rebandages each separately [before treating the next], thinking, should I be wanted, I must not be delayed [by having to bandage a number of sores].’ So he went to him and greeted him, saying, ‘Peace be upon you, Rabbi and Teacher.’ ‘Peace be upon you son of Levi,’ he replied. ‘When will you come Master?’ he asked, ‘Today,’ he replied. On his returning to Elijah, he asked, ‘What did he say to you?’ ‘Peace be upon you Son of Levi,’ he replied. [Elijah] said, ‘He thereby assured you and your father of [a portion in] the world to come.’ ‘He spoke a lie to me, saying that he would come today, but has not.’ [Elijah] answered him, ‘This is what he said to you, Today, if you would only heed His voice!’ (Psalms 95:7)” (BT Sanhedrin 98a).

“The Rabbis said: [The Messiah,] his name is חִיוְורָא (ḥivvra), White, of the House of Rabbi [Yehudah ha-Nasi], as is written, Indeed, he has borne our illness, and our sorrows he has carried. But we had reckoned him plagued, God-stricken and tormented (Isaiah 53:4) [i.e., the Messiah is as הַמְּצֹרָע (ha-metsora), the one afflicted with skin blanch—he is called unclean and dwells outside the camp (Rashi)]” (BT Sanhedrin 98b).

And the person afflicted with skin blanch, in whom the affliction is, his clothes shall be torn and his hair disheveled, and his moustache he shall cover, and he shall call out, “Unclean! Unclean!” All the days that the affliction is on him he shall remain unclean. He is unclean. He shall dwell apart. Outside the camp shall his dwelling be (Leviticus 13:45–46).

Indeed, he has borne our illness, and our sorrows he has carried. But we had reckoned him plagued, God-stricken and tormented. Yet he was wounded for our crimes, crushed for our transgressions. The chastisement that restored our well-being he bore, and through his bruising we were healed (Isaiah 53:4–5).

This shall be the teaching concerning הַמְּצֹרָע (ha-metsora), the one afflicted with skin blanch—הַמוֹצִיא רָע (ha-motsi ra), the one who utters evil. Rabbi Ḥiyya said, ‘If anyone produces evil speech, all his limbs are defiled and he deserves to be confined, for that evil word rises and arouses an impure spirit upon him, defiling him” (Zohar 3:53a).

“Yet he who [continually] declares [others] unclean is [himself] unclean and never speaks in praise [of people]. And Shemu’el said: With his own blemish he stigmatizes [others] as unclean” (BT Qiddushin 70a).

“When [the souls in the Garden of Eden below roam on every new moon and Sabbath] they tell the Messiah about the suffering of Israel in exile and about the wicked among them who do not seek to know their Lord, he weeps aloud over the wicked, as is written: But he was wounded for our sins, crushed for our iniquities (Isaiah 53:5). Those souls return and stand in their places.

In the Garden of Eden there is one chamber called the Chamber of the Ill. The Messiah then enters that chamber and calls for all the illnesses, all the pains, and all the sufferings of Israel to come upon him, and they all do so. And if he did not ease them off of Israel, taking them upon himself, no one could endure the sufferings of Israel from the punishments of Torah, as is written: Yet it was our sickness that he was bearing (Isaiah 53:4). Similarly, Rabbi El’azar on earth [see BT Bava Metsi’a 83b–84b].

For innumerable are the sufferings looming over a person every day, all of which descended into the world at the time when Torah was given. When the people of Israel were in the Holy Land, they eliminated all those illnesses and sufferings from the world through rituals and sacrifices. Now, the Messiah removes them from inhabitants of the world, until a person departs from this world and receives punishment, as has been said. Except for the extremely wicked, who are sent deep within Hell, into those other compartments, where they are punished severely for the extreme filth of the soul; then intense fire is kindled to consume that filth. Woe to the soul who suffers that punishment! Furthermore, angels of destruction harass them with rods of fire to shake out that filth. Woe to the soul who suffers that punishment! Happy are those who keep the commandments of Torah!” (Zohar 2:212a, cf. Zohar Ḥadash 56c).

For this command which I charge you today is not too wondrous for you nor is it distant. It is not in the heavens, to say, “Who will go up for us to the heavens and take it for us and let us hear it, that we may do it?” And it is not beyond the sea, to say, “Who will cross over for us beyond the sea and take it for us and let us hear it, that we may do it?” But the word is very close to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to do it (Deuteronomy 30:11–14).

You are good and do good. Teach me Your statutes. The arrogant plaster me with lies—I with whole heart keep Your decrees. Their heart grows dull like fat—as for me, in Your teaching I delight. It was good for me that I was afflicted, so that I might learn Your statutes. Better for me Your mouth’s teaching than thousands of pieces of silver and gold (Psalms 119:68–72).

“Rabbi Abba said, ‘Yose, my son, I will tell you what happened to me with the Holy Lamp [Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai]. One day we were walking in the valley of Ono, delving into Torah that whole day. Due to the intensity of the sun, we sat ourselves down in the cleft of a certain rock [this recalls the cleft of the rock where God revealed His back to Moses (Exodus 33:22–23). Similarly, here, a profound mystery is revealed: the suffering of the righteous]. I said to him, ‘How is it that whenever the wicked proliferate in the world, the righteous among them are smitten on their account? For we have learned as follows: ‘For a generation’s חוֹבָא (ḥova), sin [lit., liability, debt], the righteous are seized.’ Why? If because they do not reprimand the world for their deeds, well, there are many who do reprimand but are not heeded, and the righteous are overwhelmed by them. And if it is so that there will be no one to protect the world, then let them not die and not be seized for the sins [of the world], since the righteous find joy in the destruction [of the wicked].’

He replied, ‘For a generation’s sin, the righteous are surely seized, and we have established these matters. But when the righteous are seized with illness or afflictions, it is in order to atone for the world; then all sins of the generation are purged. How do we know this? From all members of the body. When all the members are in distress—grave illness prevailing over them—one member must suffer so that all of them may be healed. Which one is it? The arm. The arm is struck and blood is drawn from it, and then all members of the body are healed.

Similarly, inhabitants of the world are bodily members, interlinked. When the blessed Holy One wishes to grant healing to the world, He strikes one righteous person among them, and through him provides healing to all. How do we know this? As is written: But he was wounded for our sins, crushed for our iniquities, and by his wound we are healed (Isaiah 53:5). And by his wound—bloodletting, like someone letting blood from his arm. By that wound we are healed—healing comes to us, to all members of the body.

Never is a righteous person smitten except to provide healing to the generation and to atone for them. This is the mystery of ‘a righteous one who suffers,’ for the Other Side prefers most of all that Judgment should overwhelm a righteous one—for then he does not care about the whole world and ignores them because of the joy of dominating him [cf. Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 1a–b]. Yet that righteous person attains supreme dominion in this world and in the world that is coming. As for ‘a righteous one who prospers,’ this is because the blessed Holy One does not care to atone for the world’” (Zohar 3:217b–18b).

Truth from the Earth Will Spring Up

043-planting

“[And God said, נַעֲשֶׂה (Na’aseh), let us make, a human in our image…’ (Genesis 1:26)]—Rabbi Simon said: When the blessed Holy One came to create the first human, the ministering angels made themselves into cohorts and parties, some of them saying, ‘He will not be created,’ and some of them saying, ‘He will be created.’ As is written, Kindness and truth נִפְגָּשׁוּ (nifggashu), have met [or: have struck], justice and peace נָשָׁקוּ (nashaqu), have kissed [or: (each has) נִשְׁקוֹ (nishqo), his weapon] (Psalms 85:11). Kindness said, ‘He will be created, because he will render kindness.’ Truth said, ‘He will not be created, because he is all lies.’ Righteousness said, ‘He will be created, because he will perform justice.’ Peace said, ‘He will not be created, because he is all strife.’ What did the blessed Holy One do? He took up Truth and flung it to the earth, as is written, And he flung truth to the ground (Daniel 8:12). The ministering angels said before the blessed Holy One, ‘Master of the Worlds! How [can] You be in contempt of the council?’ [Nevertheless,] Truth will rise from the earth, as is written, Truth from the earth will spring up, [as justice from the heavens looks down] (Psalms ibid., 12).

The Rabbis say in the name of Rabbi Ḥanina, and Rabbi Pinḥas and Rabbi Ḥelqiah say in the name of Rabbi Simon: מְאֹד (me’od), very—[read:] אָדָם (adam), man. As is written, And God saw all that He had done, and, look, it was me’od, very, good (Genesis 1:31). And, look, it was… good—man. Rav Huna Rabbah of Sepphoris, said: While the ministering angels were busy arguing with each other, the blessed Holy One created him. He said to them, ‘What are you arguing for? Man is already נַעֲשָׂה (na’asah), made!” (Bereshit Rabbah 8:5–6).

“Any time Israel occupies themselves with Torah and doing the will of their Father in Heaven, the blessed Holy One Himself turns Elohim [i.e., the quality of Judgment] to blessing, as is said, Truth from the earth will spring up, as justice from the heavens looks down (Psalms 85:12). Now there is no look­ing down except to bless, as is said, Look down from Your holy dwelling place, [from the heavens,and bless your people [Israel…] (Deuteronomy 26:15). Any time Israel does not occupy themselves with Torah and doing the will of the Omnipresent, perish the thought, He turns to curse them, as is said, And it grew up to the host of the heavens and brought down some of the stars from the host and trampled them. [And up to the Commander of the Host it grew, and from it the daily offering was taken away, and the firm place of His sanctuary was flung away.And a host was criminally set against the daily offering, and it flung truth to the ground and prospered in what it did (Daniel 8:10–12). And there is no host of the heavens but Israel. Criminally—crime of Torah, as is said, And it flung truth to the ground and prospered in what it did. Teaching that if Israel, perish the thought, flings words of Torah to the ground, immediately the kingship of the nations prosper” (Tanna debei Eliyyahu 18).

אֱמֶת (Emet), truth—א (alef) at the beginning of the alphabet, מ (mem) in the middle, ת (tav) at its end… When Israel lies in Torah of Truth, by swearing falsely, it is said, And he flung truth to the ground (Daniel 8:12). What is the groundShekhinah. And when Israel fulfills the Torah of Truth, by swearing the truth, it is said, אֱמֶת מֵאֶרֶץ תִּצְמָח (emet me-erets titsema), truth from the earth will spring up (Psalms 85:12). Now in exile it says, And truth is not to be found (Isaiah 59:15) and falsehood rules the world. But when Truth is arrayed, ascending to its site obliterating falsehood from the world, it is written, True speech stands firm always (Proverbs 12:19). It is not written firmly founded, but rather, firm alwaysBut a mere moment—a lying tongue (ibid.). What is Truth? The middle pillar. Shekhinaha teaching of truth was in his mouth, [and no wrong was found on his lips] (Malachi 2:6). And what is falsehood? Samael. When the truth rules, falsehood will be removed from the world ” (Tiqqunei Zohar 63, 95a–b).

Behold the man whose name is צֶמַח (tsemaḥ), Shoot; and יִצְמָח (yitsemaḥ), he shall shoot up, in his place, and he shall build the temple of YHWH (Zechariah 6:12).

“The Sages said, ‘If the King Messiah comes from among the living, David will be his name; if he comes from among the dead, it will be David himself.’ Rabbi Tanḥuma said, ‘I say that the basis for this is, And keeping faith with His anointed, to David [and his seed forever] (Psalms 18:51).’

Rabbi Yehoshu’a son of Levi said, ‘צֶמַח (Tsemaḥ), Shoot, is his name.’ Rabbi Yudan son of Rabbi Ayybo said, ‘מְנַחֵם (Menaḥem), Comforter, is his name.’ Ḥananiah son of Rabbi Abahu said, ‘They do not disagree. The numerical value of the letters of one name equals the numerical value of the other—צֶמַח (Tsemaḥ) is equal to מְנַחֵם (Menaḥem)’ [cf. Zohar 3:16a].

And this supports the view of Rabbi Yudan son of Rabbi Ayybo. Once a Jew was plowing and his ox snorted once before him. An Arab who was passing and heard the sound said to him, ‘O son of Judah, O son of Judah. Loosen your ox, and loosen your plow. For today your Temple was destroyed.’ The ox snorted again. He said to him, ‘O son of Judah, O son of Judah. Bind your ox, and bind your plow. For today the King Messiah was born.’ He said to him, ‘What is his name?’ [The Arab replied,] ‘Menaḥem.’ He said to him, ‘And what is his father’s name?’ He said to him, ‘Ḥizqiyah.’ He said to him, ‘Where is he from?’ He said to him, ‘From the royal capital of Bethlehem in Judea.’ He went and sold his ox and sold his plow. And he became a peddler of infants’ clothes. And he went from place to place until he came to that very city. All of the women bought from him. But Menaḥem’s mother did not buy from him. He heard the women saying, ‘O Mother of Menaḥem, O Mother of Menaḥem, come buy for your child.’ She said, ‘I want to choke this enemy of Israel. For on the day he was born the Temple was destroyed.’ He said to her, ‘We are sure that on this day it was destroyed, and on this day it will be rebuilt.’ She said to him, ‘I have no money.’ He said to her, ‘It is of no matter to me. Come and buy for him and if you have no money, pay me when I return.’ After a while he returned. He went up to that place. He said to her, ‘What happened to the infant?’ She said to him, ‘Since the time you saw him a wind came and whisked him away from me.’

Rabbi Bun said, ‘Why must we learn this from an Arab? Do we not have evidence for it? And Lebanon with its mighty shall fall (Isaiah 10:34). And what follows this? And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1)’” (JT Berakhot 2:3, 5a, cf. Eikhah Rabbah 1:51; Zohar 1:82b).

“שִׂיחַ (Shiaḥ), plant, of the field (Genesis 2:5)—the first מָשִׁיחַ (mashiaḥ), Messiah, who was not yet on earth. Shrub, of the field (ibid.)—the second Messiah. Why were they not on the earth? Because Moses was not there with them to serve the Shekhinah [called Earth]. Of him, it is written: And there was no human to till the soil (ibid.). The secret is given in: The scepter shall not pass from Judah (Genesis 49:10)—Messiah son of David; Nor the mace from between his legs (ibid.)—Messiah son of Joseph. Until Shiloh comes (ibid.)—Moses, since מֹשֶׁה (Moshe), Moses, is numerically equivalent to שִׁילֹה (Shiloh), Shiloh. וְלוֹ יִקְהַת (Ve-lo yiqehat), and to him the submission, of peoples (ibid.)—the letters [of]: וְלֵוִי קְהָת (ve-Levi qehat), and Levi Kohath [i.e., reaching from Moses, to Kohath and Levi, his ancestors]” (Zohar 1:25b, Tiqqunei ha-Zohar).

“[Rabbi Yoḥanan son of Zakkai used to say,] ‘If you have a sapling in your hand, and it is said to you, ‘Behold, there is the Messiah’—go on with your planting, and afterward go out and receive him” (Avot de-Rabbi Natan B, 31).

All the Commandments of the Blessed Holy One: You Shall Love Your Fellow as Yourself

“Our Rabbis taught: A man should always be lenient like Hillel, not strict like Shammai. It once happened that two men made a bet with each other, saying, He who goes and provokes Hillel will receive four hundred zuz. One said, ‘I will go and provoke him.’ That day was the Sabbath eve, and Hillel was washing his head. He went, passed by the door of his house, and called out, ‘Who here is Hillel, who here is Hillel?’ He robed and went out to him, saying, ‘My son, what do you need?’ ‘I have a question to ask.’ He said. ‘Ask, my son.’ ‘Why are the skulls of the Babylonians oval? ‘My son, you have asked a great question [Hillel was himself a Babylonian], because they have no skillful midwives.’ He departed, waited an hour, returned, and called out, ‘Who here is Hillel, who here is Hillel?’ He robed and went out to him, saying, ‘My son, what do you need?’ ‘I have a question to ask,’ he said. ‘Ask, my son.’ He asked: ‘Why are the eyes of the residents of Tadmor bleary?’ ‘My son, you have asked a great question: because they live among the sands.’ He departed,waited an hour, returned, and called out, ‘Who here is Hillel, who here is Hillel?’ He robed and went out to him, saying, ‘My son, what do you need?’ ‘I have a question to ask,’ he said. ‘Ask, my son.’ ‘Why are the feet of the Africans wide?’ ‘My son, you have asked a great question: because they live in watery marshes.’ ‘I have many questions to ask but fear that you may become angry.’ He then robed, sat before him and said, ‘Ask all the questions you have to ask.’ ‘Are you the Hillel who is called Prince of Israel?’ ‘Yes,’ he replied. ‘If that is you may there not be many like you in Israel.’ ‘Why, my son?’ he asked. ‘Since I have lost four hundred zuz because of you.’ ‘Be careful of your spirit, Hillel is worth it that you should lose four hundred zuz and yet another four hundred zuz on his account, yet Hillel shall not be strict.’

Our Rabbis taught: A certain stranger once came before Shammai and asked him, ‘How many teachings do you have?’ He said, ‘Two, the Written Torah and the Oral Torah.’ ‘I trust you with respect to the Written Torah, but with respect to the Oral Torah I do not trust you; make me a convert on condition that you teach me the Written Torah [only]. He scolded and drove him out in rebuke. When he went before Hillel, [who accepted him as] a convert. On the first day, he taught him, Alef, bet, gimmel, dalet; the following day he reversed [them] for him. ‘But yesterday you did not tell me that.’ ‘Did you not rely on me? Then trust me with respect to the Oral [Torah] too [since there must be a certain reliance on authority before anything can be learnt at all].’

On another occasion it happened that a certain stranger came before Shammai and said to him, ‘Make me a convert, on condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot.’ He shoved him with the builder’s cubit in his hand [בֶּאֱמֶת (be’emet), builder’s cubit, perhaps plays on אֶמֶת (emet), truth, i.e., Shammai’s approach was built on the basis of absolute truth]. When he went before Hillel, he said to him, ‘What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow: that is the whole Torah and the rest is its commentary. Go and learn’” (BT Shabbat 30b–31a).

“Son of Azzai said: This is the book of the descendants of Adam: [On the day God created the human, in the image of God] (Genesis 5:1) is a great principle of Torah. Rabbi Akiva said: and love your fellow as yourself (Leviticus 19:18) is a great principle, so that you must not say, ‘Since I have been put to shame, let my fellow be put to shame, since I have been cursed, let my fellow be cursed.’ Rabbi Tanḥuma said: If you do so, know whom you put to shame, for God created the human in His image (Genesis 1:27)” (Bereshit Rabbah 24:7, cf. Sifra Qedoshim 4:12).

“[Rabbi Ḥiyya son of Abba said:] Even father and son, master and disciple, who are engaged in Torah at the same gate become each other’s אֹיְבִים (oivim), enemies. Yet, they do not move from there until they are made אֹהֲבִים (ohavim), friends, [again], as is said: אֶת וָהֵב בְּסוּפָה (et vahev be-sufah), Waheb in a whirlwind (Numbers 21:14)—do not read בְּסוּפָה (be-sufah), in a whirlwind, but rather [אַהֲבָה (ahavah), love] בְּסוֹפָהּ (be-sofah), at its end” (BT Qiddushin 30b, cf. Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 6a).

“All Companions who do not love each other divert themselves from the straight path” (Zohar 2:190b).

Look, how good and how pleasant is the dwelling of brothers גַּם יָחַד (gam yaḥad), also together! (Psalms 133:1)—those Companions, when they sit as one, not separating from each other. At first they appear as men waging war, seeking to kill one another; afterward, they appear in love, in brotherhood. What does the blessed Holy One say? Look, how good and how pleasant is the dwelling of brothers gam yaḥad, also together!gam, also, including Shekhinah with them. Furthermore, the blessed Holy One listens to their utterances and is pleased and delights with them, as is written: Then those who revere YHWH spoke with one another; and YHWH listened attentively, and it was written in a book of remembrance before Him… (Malachi 3:16) [see M Avot 3:2 ad loc.; cf. BT Shabbat 63a].

And you, Companions who are here, just as you have been previously, so from now on: do not part from one another until the blessed Holy One delights with you and proclaims peace upon you—and for your sake, peace will prevail in the world, as is written: For the sake of my brothers and my companions (Psalms 122:8)” (Zohar 3:59b).

They helped everyone his fellow; and everyone said to his brother, ‘Be strong’ (Isaiah 41:6).

A song of ascents for David. Look, how good and pleasant is the dwelling of brothers together (Psalms 133:1, cf. Zohar 3:59b).

“Rabbi Ḥiyya opened, ‘When your enemy falls, do not be glad; when he stumbles, let not your heart rejoice‘ (Proverbs 24:17)…. Come and see: Why did Joseph—who was granted dominion by the blessed Holy One—spin schemes around his brothers when they fell into his hands? After all, he knew the Torah that his father taught him! But perish the thought that Joseph spun those schemes to take revenge upon them! Rather, he did all this only to bring his brother Benjamin for whom he yearned. He did not let his brothers fall, for look what is written: Joseph gave orders to fill their bags with grain… (Genesis 42:25)—all this so they would not fall” (Zohar 1:199a).

“Just as water covers the nakedness of the sea, as it says, [They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of YHWH,] as the waters cover the sea (Isaiah 11:9), so Torah covers the nakedness of Israel, as it says, [Hatred foments strife, but] אַהֲבָה (ahava), love, covers up all misdeeds (Proverbs 10:12)” (Shir ha-Shirim Rabbah, 1:2).

“It is written, You shall not take vengeance, and you shall not harbor a grudge against any of the children of your people (Leviticus 19:18). How does this apply? If someone is chopping meat, and the clever cuts his hand, will he in return cut the [other] hand? But love your fellow as yourself (ibid.)” (JT Nedarim 9:4, 41c).

“It has been taught in the Concealment of the Book: In every manner חֶסֶד (ḥesed), love [or: kindness], must be increased and fashioned, not cut or eliminated from the world” (Zohar 3:133b, Idra Rabba).

“Don’t the inhabitants of the world realise that I based the world solely on love? As is written, כִּי אָמַרְתִּי עוֹלָם חֶסֶד יִבָּנֶה (ki-amarti olam ḥesed yibaneh), I said, ‘The world shall be built on love’ (Psalms 89:3). By this the world endures” (Zohar 1:10b).

“Come and see: All is called Love, and for the sake of love all exists, as is written: Many waters cannot quench love (Song of Songs 8:7). All endures by love, for the Holy Name is found to be so, as has been established. י (Yod)—the upper tip is never separated from י (yod), since it settles upon it, never parting” (Zohar 3:267b).

All Nursing of Hatred of Israel is Based on This

Israel loved Joseph more than all his sons (Genesis 37:3).

Rabbi El’azar opened, ‘Go, My people, enter your rooms and shut your doors behind you. Hide yourself for the slightness of a moment, until wrath passes (Isaiah 26:20). Come and see how greatly the blessed Holy One loves Israel! Because of His love for them above all other nations, He warns them and seeks to protect them in whatever they do.

Come and see: There are times during the day when judgment looms over the world, and when such a time arrives, one must protect himself from being attacked by judgment. Those times are well known and have been established [see for example Zohar 1:132; 2:21a (MhN)]….

Moreover, when judgment arouses in the world and prevails in the city, one should not walk alone in the streets, as we have established; rather, he should shut himself in so that he does not venture out—as they have established concerning Noah, who shut himself within the ark so as not to be found in the presence of the Destroyer.

So, Go, my people, enter your rooms—shut yourself in; and shut your doors behind you, so as not to be exposed in the presence of the Destroyer. Hide yourself for the slightness of a moment, until wrath passes, for once judgment has passed, the Destroyer has no power to destroy.

Come and see: Because of the love Jacob felt for Joseph—more than for his brothers—even though they were all his own brothers, what is written? They conspired against him to kill him (Genesis 37:18). All the more so, other nations toward Israel!

Come and see the consequences of that excessive love! It caused him to be exiled from his father, and his father to be exiled along with him; it inflicted exile upon them all as well as upon Shekhinah, who was exiled among them. Although a decree was issued, they have established that because the ornamented tunic that he made for him extravagantly, what is written? His brothers saw that it was he their father loved… (Genesis 37:4) [cf. BT Shabbat 10b]” (Zohar 1:183a, cf. ibid. 3:221a–b).

“An Israelite is forbidden to teach Torah to a Gentile, as is written: He tells His words to Jacob…. He has not done so for any other nation… (Psalms 147:19–20) [cf. BT Sanhedrin 59a; Ḥagigah 13a]. Consequently, Jacob thrust him away and Samuel thrust him away, so that he would have no share in holiness. All nursing of hatred of Israel is based on this” (Zohar 2:111b–12a).

“Even a gentile, even a slave, and even a slavegirl who sit and learn Torah, the Shekhinah is with them” (Tanna debei Eliyyahu 9, cf. Ba’al ha-Sullam, Rabbi Yehudah Ashlag, A Slavegirl that is Heir to Her Mistress).

“Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai taught: ‘הֲלָכָה בְּיָדוּעַ (Halakhah be-yadu’a), the behavior is well-known: Esau hates Jacob [alt., וַהֲלאֹ יָדוּעַ (va-ha-lo yadu’a), isn’t it well-known, that Esau hates Jacob? Nevertheless, at that moment (Genesis 33:4) he was compassionate and kissed him wholeheartedly]’” (Sifrei, Numbers 59).

“One of the Rabbis asked Rabbi Kahana: Have you heard what הַר סִינַי (har sinai), Mount Sinai [implies]? He said: A mountain upon which נִסִּים (nissim), miracles, were performed for Israel. Then it should be called הַר נִיסַאי (har nisai), Mount Nisai? Rather, a mountain which made a good סִימָן (siman), sign, for Israel. Then it should be called, הַר סִימָנַאי (har simanai), Mount Simanai? He said to him: Why don’t you frequent [the academy of] Rav Pappa and Rav Huna son of Rabbi Yehoshu’a, who make a study of aggadah? For Rav Ḥisda and Rabbah son of Rav Huna both said: What is Mount Sinai? A mountain on which שִׂנְאָה (sin’ah), hatred, of peoples of the world descended [i.e., Israel’s hatred of the nations; alt., the nations’ hatred of Israel. Cf. BT Avodah Zarah 2b–3b; Zohar Ḥadash 28c]” (BT Shabbat 89a).

And Haman said to Ahasuerus: ‘There is a certain people, scattered and separate from the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom, and their rules are different from every people’s and they do not observe the king’s rules, and it does not pay for the king to leave them in peace. If it pleases the king, let it be written to wipe them out, and ten thousand talents of silver will I measure out to the king’s treasury.’ And the king removed his ring from his hand and gave it to Haman son of Hammedatha the Agagite, צֹרֵר הַיְּהוּדִים (tsorer ha-Yehudim), foe of the Jews (Esther 3:8–10).

“To what can we compare Ahasuerus and Haman at this point? To two men one of whom had a mound in the middle of his field and the other a ditch in the middle of his field. The owner of the ditch said, ‘I wish I could buy that mound,’ and the owner of the mound said, ‘I wish I could buy that ditch.’ One day they met, and the owner of the ditch said, ‘Sell me your mound,’ whereupon the other replied, ‘Take it for nothing, and I shall be only too glad.’ And the king removed his ring. Rabbi Abba son of Kahana said: This removal of the ring was more effective than forty-eight prophets and seven prophetesses who prophesied to Israel; for all these were not able to turn Israel to better courses, yet the removal of the ring did turn them to better courses” (BT Megillah 14a, cf. Sanhedrin 97b).

In the lap the lot is cast, but from YHWH is all the disposing (Proverbs 16:33).

Water-streams, a king’s heart in the hand of YHWH, wherever He desires, He diverts it (Proverbs 21:1)—Rabbi Yishma’el said: Water-streams—just as when you put water into a vessel you can tilt it to whatever side you wish, so also when flesh-and-blood is elevated to kingship, his heart is placed in the hand of the blessed Holy One. If the world merits it, the blessed Holy One tilts the king’s heart toward good decrees; if the world is guilty, the blessed Holy One tilts his heart toward evil decrees. Thus each and every decree that issues from the king’s mouth originates from the blessed Holy One; hence it is said, wherever He desires, He diverts it” (Midrash Mishlei).